While not a total dog, the golden years drama “Darling Companion” could be called a shaggy if agreeable mutt that doesn't know when it's outstayed its welcome.
The first movie from four-time Oscar nominee Lawrence Kasdan since his largely forgotten 2003 Stephen King adaptation “Dreamcatcher,” “Darling Companion” probably would have worked better as a short film, given how overlong, underplotted and forgettable it is as a 103-minute feature.
Lawrence is best known for co-writing the iconic action films “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” as well as for co-penning and directing the Baby Boomer dramas “The Big Chill” and “Grand Canyon.” His latest, co-written with his wife, Meg Kasdan, definitely falls into the latter category, with its similar formula of using stressful circumstances to bring together family and friends so they can hash out their dysfunctions.
Oscar winner Diane Keaton stars as Beth, a well-heeled, emotionally heightened empty nester struggling to find her identity now that her child-rearing years are coming to an end. After dropping her older daughter and precious grandson off at the airport, she and younger daughter Grace (Elisabeth Moss) rescue a mistreated, abandoned dog on the side of the highway.
The handsome veterinarian (Jay Ali) they seek out to check the stray encourages them to keep the aging pooch, since the chances he will be adopted from an animal shelter are slim. Beth agrees, dubbing the dog Freeway and taking him in over the objections of her husband, Joseph (Kasdan regular and fellow Oscar winner Kevin Kline), an aloof and prickly spine surgeon.
A year later, Grace and the vet are getting married at her parents' luxury vacation cabin in the Rocky Mountains, and Freeway is not only part of the family but also part of the ceremony.
After the wedding, Joseph takes the dog for a leash-free walk in the woods, and while the workaholic doctor is busy nattering on his cell phone, the canine chases after a deer and doesn't come back.
Beth is furious and heartbroken that Freeway has gone missing on her husband's watch, and she refuses to go home until they find the dog.
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Starring: Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Dianne Wiest, Richard Jenkins, Mark Duplass. (Some sexual content including references, and language)